Escapes at Western State Hospital left the public in danger and led to a statewide manhunt to apprehend an individual responsible for a brutal slaying. Fortunately, authorities were able to recapture all escapees before anyone else was victimized. But this is only the latest symptom of the disarray at Western State. The hospital is plagued by unsafe conditions, lax security, inadequate patient care and enormous employee injury claims. The federal government is threatening to withhold funding unless it can show swift improvement. This is unacceptable.
The Legislature approved millions in new funding to reduce staff-to-patient ratios, attract and keep experienced staff and improve patient care. But money is not enough to solve the problems. This is primarily a management and culture issue. The governor replaced the CEO. Their systems for quality management and safety need to change or employees and the public will continue to be put in harms-way.